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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 73 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Some Printing Questions  (Read 2786 times)
ace pilot
Member

Posts: 20


« on: February 11, 2003, 11:52:06 AM »

Hello All!

Things are going extremely well for my RPG project- the core rules are written and being tweaked as playtesting continues, I have a cabal of excellent artists working on concept sketches for the Front and Back covers and the interior art, the provisional website is up and almost ready for public viewing, etc.

Anyways, I'm trying to stay two steps ahead and wanted to bounce off a couple questions about Printing Costs:

1. If I have access to free laser printing, would it be cheaper to print the interior text myself and have someone do the covers and bind document, rather than sending the thing to be printed by a printer?

2. If the answer to question one is "yes", what grade of paper should I use?  I presume something sturdier than standard 20 weight paper.

Cheers.
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Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 547


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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2003, 12:43:28 PM »

It's always cheaper to do as much as possible yourself, but it really depends on a few things:

Quality - I used the laser printer at work to do the ashcans or Wyrd and Charnel Gods and one thing I noticed was that, once the printer heated up, the back sides of the pages would smear or get a toner residue on them.  You may not have a problem if you have a high end printer.

The size of the paper - Any odd sized pages will require a professional printer, but you can manage a few different sizes with a standard printer (8.5" x 11", 5.5" x 8.5", 7" x 8.5").

The number of pages & # of copie - The bigger your print run the better off you will be getting it professionally done.  We did 50 copies of each of those ash cans and it took forever to put them together.  And if you're printing them on the down low you may have to do them a few at a time which always drags things out.

Type of binding - A printer might not have a problem with saddle stitching your pages if you already have them sorted, but it's not that hard to do it yourself.  If you want perfect binding I don't think a printer will go for you doing all the printing yourself and I'm not sure you'd save much money to make it worth your while seeing that the binding is the most expensive part of the process.


As far as paper goes, I'd go with 50# white or ivory.

,Matt G.
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Chris Passeno
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Posts: 113

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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2003, 03:34:08 PM »

Well, let's do the math on that.

Let's take an average price for a decent high yield laser cartridge, say.. $70.00.  You are gonna get maybe 1000 outputs on it.  Half that if you are doing double sided.  That's .07 per side.

Let's say you buy carton of 24# "insert cheap brand here" laser paper for $79.00.  That?s got 5000 sheets in it.  That's .0158 per sheet.

If we add those two together and say you are working for free and at the office, it would be .1558 per double sided sheet.  We in the "biz" say that's .0779 per click.

That's in my opinion pretty high priced.  It wouldn't be difficult locating a printer that would blow the sock?s off that price.

Now I'm doing this off the top of my head, but you see where I'm going.

As for paper, you gotta be careful what you put in a laser printer.  You can force many different papers into it, but over the length of the run, it maynot be such a good thing.  Most printers would immediatesly suggest a 60# Offset opaque sheet with a decent brightness, say around 96.

Hopes this helps.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2003, 07:56:33 AM »

Yep, printers work in volume, so they can massively discount. I'm amazed at how little printing costs when you make a large order. Even the ridiculous price we paid for the first 100 copy printrun for Universalis, was waay lower than the esitmated DIY cost above.

Still, Chris, if the printing is actually free, does doing that part make sense? I mean, obviously you can save money, but will a printer do your binding if you print your own guts? Are there potential technical difficulties with doing this? Quality issues?

Mike
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samdowning
Member

Posts: 38


« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2003, 10:50:55 AM »

Big quality issues, I'd think.  Of course, my laser printer is at least 6 years old, but I know that the stuff I get from the printer is much better than anything I could print out on the laser printer.  The solids are smoother and the gradients are MUCH better.  On top of that, decent cover stock won't go through a laser printer without smearing.

Also, you have fewer binding options if you print it yourself then take it to be bound.  I don't know of any printers that will take pre-printed material and perfect bind it, for example.  I'm sure they're out there (you can find anyone to do anything these days if you look hard enough and pay them enough money), but I haven't come across them.

-------------------------
Samantha Downing
Deep7
http://www.deep7.com
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-------------------------
Samantha Downing
Deep7
http://www.deep7.com
Chris Passeno
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2003, 11:00:35 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Still, Chris, if the printing is actually free, does doing that part make sense? I mean, obviously you can save money, but will a printer do your binding if you print your own guts? Are there potential technical difficulties with doing this? Quality issues?


Mike, I'm just trying to show that the printing isn't free.  I would tread carefully.  If you keep it to a small quantity, then sure you could save some money.  Just keep in mind that standard laser printers are degradable.

Sure a printer will do the bindery for you.  I would meet with them first and find out how they would like it supplied.  There are specific ways each printer like to receive bindery jobs.  You should probably print one set out and take it too them, there may be some layout adjustment's they'd want.

If it's not exactly, and I mean exactly, like they want it, you will be charged a premium.

In synopsis, yes you can have a printer do just the bindery, but make sure you meet with them first to iron out any problems before you've got the insides done.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2003, 11:13:37 AM »

Quote from: Chris Passeno
Mike, I'm just trying to show that the printing isn't free.


I get that. I think we just have to take Ace at his word, however, and assume that his uncle Bob died and left him a dozen printers, each with multiple toner cartridges, and several reams of paper. Just in case something like this is the case.

But your point is well taken. If any of these things are not free, then it's not free.

Anyhow, good advice regarding dealing with the printer.

As long as we're on it, is there any potential gain to be had in pricing out the different parts to different sources, and then using more than one printer? That is, what if I have one company that quotes lower on the guts, and another that quotes lower on the cover and binding. Would it make sense to get the guts done by the first company, and then take it to the second for binding?

Do printers sense these things? Do they resent it? Does it seem like too much hassle organizing the whole thing to be worth the potential savings?

Mike
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Chris Passeno
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2003, 01:50:06 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
As long as we're on it, is there any potential gain to be had in pricing out the different parts to different sources, and then using more than one printer? That is, what if I have one company that quotes lower on the guts, and another that quotes lower on the cover and binding. Would it make sense to get the guts done by the first company, and then take it to the second for binding?

Do printers sense these things? Do they resent it? Does it seem like too much hassle organizing the whole thing to be worth the potential savings?


So long as both printers know what the other expects, then I see know problem with taking the job to multiple printers.  I would be straight up front with them and let them know why you are taking it to the other printer.  Maybe the first printer would price-match the second or vise versa.  If each knows what's going on, then there will less likely be production issues or delays.

Printers will definately know there's something amiss when you ask them to only print the guts or to only bind it.  After all, it's very unlikely that you have the means to finish the project all by yourself.  Do we (printers) resent it? I guess deep down we do.  But good customer service would never let on to that fact.  As a business transaction it really shouldn't matter.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2003, 02:19:21 PM »

Thanks for the honesty, Chris. :-)

Hi Sam, missed you up there before. Welcome to The Forge.

Question. Is there a difference in quality between the laser printers that most of us civilians have, and those of the printers? Or is it just technical knowledge of some sort that accounts for the quality. I think we all here agree that for covers you need a printer. But as far as guts go, is the quality really that much better from a professional printer (I don't doubt that this may be true, I'm just not sure why)? Assuming the same quality stock?

Mike
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Chris Passeno
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2003, 03:07:31 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Question. Is there a difference in quality between the laser printers that most of us civilians have, and those of the printers? Or is it just technical knowledge of some sort that accounts for the quality. I think we all here agree that for covers you need a printer. But as far as guts go, is the quality really that much better from a professional printer (I don't doubt that this may be true, I'm just not sure why)? Assuming the same quality stock?


"Is there a difference between a Yugo and a BMW?"  ;-)

The basic process is the same, but everything else differs.  The big boys like a DocuTech has extremely good resolution, it can handle a wider range of stocks, the toner is better, usually does between 110-135 per minute, and it has a much longer Preventive Maintenance schedule.  It's not unheard of to go 200k+ before needing checked.

Home Laser Printer just aren't made for big runs.  They degrade fast, the fuser may not fuse the toner to the sheet as well on large runs, and the machine may just overheat.

I guess in layman's terms...  Apples and banana's.
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Valamir
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2003, 06:47:56 PM »

So would it be safe to say that if I was only printing a dozen pages or something my fairly high end but still for home or small office use laser printer would do just as good a job as the big print shop printers, but if I were to run it continuously over a couple hours the quality of mine would degrade rapidly while the high volume unit maintained consistancy?  Or would there be noticeable differences in print quality even from the first page?
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Chris Passeno
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Posts: 113

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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2003, 05:27:24 AM »

So long as your total prints weren't really that much and/or you spaced them out over a length of time... sure it'd work.

Also keep in mind that most Laser Printer's put a wicked curl on paper and a huge amount of static.  This sometimes happens with the big copiers as well.  Us printers are constantly fighting static.   I'd suggest running a couple dozen sets of the insides and taking them to your printer.  Get thier feedback.  If it's a small order, they will probably do the bindery by hand anyway.
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Luke
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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2003, 11:48:22 PM »

I recently went to press on my game. Five years ago the  little beast was double-sided, laser printed-then-photocopied pages that I would print and copy myself and then take to a copy shop to have bound. The books were under 100 pages.

When I did the photocopying after hours at work, all I would have to pay for was the binding. Back then I used black covers tape bound, which cost about $3. I think the price has gone up to $5 for tape-binds now. That was the only money cost, the other costs were in time; it takes a long time and a lot of patience to copy thousands of pages yourself and make sure everything is in order and at the right orientation.

When I had to pay to have the copies done that added another $7-10 to the cost. (the books got bigger over time, too.) Having the books copied and bound at a copy shop ended up costing me about $10 a unit.

The quality was variable. Usually the text was decent--if the toner catridge was new. But art was always a crap shoot. It is very hard to get consistent and saturated blacks on a laser printer or copier.

Now the books have grown up and gone to press. The cost per unit dropped dramatically, from $10 each for copying a dozen of them, to $2.50 for printing a run of 1000. And the quality shot up. I got better paper, better binding, and clean, consistent inks throughout. When you pay a printer to do your run you get to send stuff back if it doesn't look right! It's a lovely security. Fortunately though, my books came out right the first time.

I had to lay out a chunk of change to start the ball rolling, but I really think it was worth it.

Though I didn't use a Docutech printer, I did have prices quoted for one. Honestly, you can find comparable traditional press prices for what some companies charge for using a docutech. Also, I recently had a chance to compare an rpg that was printed on a docutech to a traditionally printed rpg;  there was a quality difference. Traditional printing provides cleaner stronger lines.

The strength of the docutech and other print-on-demand machines is the fact you can do limited runs, 1 or 10 or 500. On a press 1000 is the bare minimum.

In addition to the base cost of printing there is the hidden cost of "production." Actually getting the game in a printer-acceptable layout, making the art clean for print, getting dummies made, and actually assembling the beast to go to the printer. If you don't know how to do these things, it can be a mind-numbing and soul-breaking experience. Generally, having the printer prepare your job for the press (or docutech) is very expensive. Better to start way ahead of time and have a friend steal you the software, buy a few books, ask a few questions, and try to do it yourself. It's risky business, but it is also really expensive work to pay someone for. And if you learn the basic requirements of print layout you are all set to keep churning out more games!

There are other costs involved in game-production as well: Editing and art cost money. If they don't you should consider paying for them! What I mean is, it is better to pay a professional a little something to do a good job and make your game look snazzy than it is to settle for what your friends'll give you. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't have produced my game without my friends' help. But their help only goes so far.


My last bit of advice: If you do choose to have your game printed professionally, either at a press or on a docutech, GET SAMPLES ahead of time and get estimates at least a month in advance. Get samples of jobs printed on your choice of paper, and jobs with the same cover stock and finish. Regarding estimates: Printers are notoriously slow turning around estimates. It sucks to be waiting a week to send your job to press because you are waiting for the sales rep to get back to you to tell you how much it costs!

::phew::

I'd be happy to answer further questions. Desktop publishing is something of a passion of mine.

-luke
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